>James Thompson, Snow Angels (2010)

[Denne krimi er ikke udgivet på dansk endnu, men da den amerikansk-fødte forfatter er bosat i Finland, og hans første engelske krimi er af rigtig god kvalitet, må man næsten regne med den dukker op i Skandinavien inden så længe.]

This ARC was sent to me by the American publisher. The novel was out in the USA in January. The writer was born in Kentucky, but has lived in Finland for ten years. The novel is the first in a planned series about the Finnish Inspector Kari Vaara. It is not the author´s debut, but the first book which has been published in English.

The environment is the northern part of Finland, inside the dark winter of the Arctic Circle, and the temperature is minus forty degrees Celsius!

“There would be silence, but cold has a sound of its own. The branches of trees freeze solid and crack under the weight of snow with sounds like muted gunshots. The snow freezes so hard that its surface contracts and takes on a pebbled texture. It crackles underfoot, even when I think I´m standing still.”

Kari Vaara´s American wife Kate is the competent manager of a local entertainment centre with hotel, bar and restaurant. She is a beautiful, young woman who is expecting their first child, and only recently has she begun to realize that she is less than thrilled about living in the ´exotic´ Arctic Circle among perpetually happy people:

“This winter, I feel like the cold and dark will never end. I get it now that people weren´t happy, just drunk. It makes me depressed. It´s terrible. Being pregnant in Finland seems scary, makes me homesick for the States.”

The plot begins when a murder victim is found on a reindeer farm, a Somali movie star called Sufia Elmi. An unpleasant crime because, as Vaara explains, “Fins are sensitive about race relations because by and large we´re closet racists”, and because the woman has been horribly mutilated.

Within a day or two Vaara believes he has cracked the case when he discovers that his ex-wife´s lover was closely connected to the victim. But is it really so simple, or does he let his hate of his former wife colour his opinion?

This debut has several very strong points: the knowledgeable and observant writer conveys a strong sense of place in the winter-dark Finland, his new home country. The protagonist and his wife are a likeable couple, happily married but with the ups and downs any couple have to live with.

The plot is fine, and though it is dark and dramatic, I ´bought it´ because the writer convinced me that these things could easily happen during the seemingly eternal night of the Arctic Circle. So beware! In spite of the apparent reindeer idyll, this is noir, and not at all a cozy Christmas story.

One small minus because the writer is so eager to portray the Finnish environment that occasionally he tells his reader too much.

I read the book as part of the 2010 Global Reading Challenge, Europe, Finland.

Another review of Snow Angels by Material Witness


About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in 2010 global reading challenge, American, Christmas, Finnish, James Thompson, review. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to >James Thompson, Snow Angels (2010)

  1. Pingback: W is for the Whole, Wide World | djskrimiblog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s